What image conjures up in your head when you imagine "letting go?" For me, I see a rope. I'm holding on for dear life. It's like a scene out of a movie. I'm dangling over a cliff, desperately holding onto that rope, or someone's hand. After awhile though, it just becomes too hard to hold on and I lose my grip. It doesn't end well.
Can you tell I have issues with letting go? It's never been my super power. It's probably more my kryptonite. I get attached and as a result, I get stuck. My best example lies in a long, dysfunctional marriage that I just couldn't release. Now, there are a lot of other dynamics involved in that situation. There's nothing simple about letting go of a 22-year marriage, with 3 kids and a life, including a business, that was intertwined in every way. I was miserable, but I refused to let go. So, my ex did it for us. In this case, he was holding my hand on the cliff and he released my hand. The movie scene returns in my head and I watch myself falling mid-air, flailing, screaming, looking upwards, as if to ask, "Why?" I now know why, and I couldn't be more grateful, but back then, it was a terrible death scene. A long fall that felt like it would never end.
I can still tend to get stuck in that old belief system. I've survived too many tragic endings. Suicide, divorce, estrangement, separation, bankruptcy, demolition, betrayal, all mixed with a bucket full of tears and a truck full of pain. I think it's time I go back to the movie director and ask him to stop with all the painful endings. They don't have to end so dramatically dude. Let's give this character a break and let her experience some calmer, more peaceful endings for a change. My life is not an episode of Grey's Anatomy.
And yes, you can have power in this area. We are not subject to a big mean God who has already written our script and has no plans to change it. No, I didn't have control over all my unhappy endings, but I certainly played a big role. Bigger than I would like to admit sometimes. Honestly, playing the victim came very naturally for me. It's as if my life just gave me the parts it knew I would thrive in. Yes, thrive. I was really good at it. I was good at being miserably unhappy, resentful, bitter, critical and sarcastic, on the inside, while putting on a calm and happy exterior. However, my chaotic inside eventually caught up to me. My thoughts got the best of me. The poison eventually corroded thru and life gave me exactly what I thought about it. Life sucks. People suck. They hurt you, and if they haven't yet, they will. Everything you have ever deeply loved has either brutally hurt you or left you and if they haven't yet, they will and it won't be covered in flowers. It will be, let's burn down the house and never talk again painful.
So, I've decided it's time to do some rewriting. I'm not happy with these endings that rip me apart from the inside out. It's time to let go in a gentler fashion, more natural and easy going. I'm rewriting this script and changing some endings, from this day forward!
How does one do that you might ask? First you have to become aware of what you are doing. You have to start to recognize your stinkin' thinkin' and how you've been playing your role all these years. You have to move from being a victim, to being victorious and then to being a vessel!
I was trained, even programmed to be a victim, and I really should have earned an Oscar or Emmy for my performances. I was superb at it. I have a black belt in victim-hood. After my divorce though, I became very tired of this role. My divorce was ugly, even uglier than our marriage. It took 4 years to completely close all the legal battles and end the custody war. When it was finally over, I was just so tired, but at last I could breath! This ending allowed me to begin the process of moving from victim to victor! I did this simply by taking control of me (the only thing I ever really had control of anyways!)
None of my journey came easily. I don't do life easy. Yet. That's changing. I didn't have a physical sensei, a mentor, a master or any one particular person to pull me thru. I didn't have a life coach, or even a counselor. Instead I had hundreds, thousands even. I read voraciously. I listened to podcasts. I tried everything! I also deepened my relationship with Jesus. I did this by really beginning to understand who he was while he was on earth. Though I will never get there, his character was who I began to strive for. This wasn't a come to Jesus story though. I knew Jesus already, but my Christianity had become one of self-righteousness. I loved, but with conditions, a whole bunch of conditions. And, I didn't just love those around me with conditions, I loved myself with conditions.
So, as I began my next journey, to go from victor to vessel, I really began taking a look at my container (my identity). Unfortunately I found a lot of stinkin, nasty, putrid water inside. I truly hated myself. Everyday I started with a pile of to-dos, in hopes I could achieve some mastery that would make me lovable. Today, I will be perfect. Today, I will get so much done and play my part so superbly, that God himself will open up the heavens and simply smile at me. Today, I will master life and be crowned "perfect." HA! I set myself up for failure, day after day after day. Since I've been around for more than 51 years now, and I figure this started when I was about 5, I've been at this for over 16,000 days. To say I had it mastered is an understatement.
Let's get back to the real reason for this post - letting go and why it's necessary. I remember as a kid the saying, "If you love something let it go, if it comes back to you, it was meant to be. If it doesn't, it wasn't." I hated it! I had no intentions to let anything go and risk that it may not return. If I loved it, I needed it to stay with me and continue to feed me those loving feelings.
If that wasn't enough, let's try this one, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." Yikes, I hated that verse also. How could Jesus be telling us we had to hate our family and even our own life to follow him? That made no sense to me and I wasn't about to accept that one either. Until now. I finally was ready! Life just had to get me to a point where holding on became harder than letting go. A point where you can see the rope is only causing more damage and the fall, really isn't that far.
I began to read and see that verse differently and what I believe Jesus meant by it was completely different than my original interpretation. You need to let go of your attachments. When you are attached, you live in fear. When you live in fear, you can't live in love (polar opposite). You live wondering how this is going to end.
Attachment means I am afraid to let go. I am afraid to let you go. You give me something I haven't learned to provide myself. You value me. You need me. You appreciate me. You get me. You love me. And when I'm getting something from an outside source, I will never be whole. You have literally given your power over to another human being and taken it away from the source who can provide it all. Your container is always waiting for someone to fill it up, and also for someone to empty it. And that, is where the problem lies.
As a victim, you are always waiting for the next person, the next circumstance, the next event to change things, for good or bad. You are at the mercy of the world. As a victor, you are starting to realize, you may actually have more of a role in this whole thing than you realize. You are the leading character in your movie and you can go to the director and have a few things to say about the script. You don't have to sit back and watch. You can fight back, but not with malice or hate, but with love, grace and dare I say, forgiveness.
As you do this, as you look in the mirror, pull roots, cast out the dark shadows and take charge of your destiny, one day you look back and realize, I'm done fighting. The victor role was great, but a victor needs a fight to keep that title, and you have no interest in a fight any longer. That's when you become a vessel.
Life shouldn't be a fight. Life shouldn't be me holding onto a rope for dear life. It shouldn't be me waiting for someone to let go, to watch them fall, or to watch me fall. Life shouldn't be a battle between people ever. That's like my two hands waging a war on each other. That's why Jesus didn't fight back. That's why he went to the cross willingly. If he fought back. If he kicked butt with his Jesus power and called on the name of the Lord, he could have eradicated the whole lot of them, but he didn't. He let go. He was simply a vessel, and on that day, other people were filling him with a whole lot of yucky, stinky, stagnant water. He took it all, to prove to us just how powerful real love is. Real love you guys. Love without conditions. Love that says, even if you are a complete jerk, I see the real you and I know you aren't that person. You are just blind right now. You are just stuck in the muck. Let me help you drain some of that water out of your boat. Use me, because I know how to empty that water. I know how to let it go.
I wish I was there. I'm so not. I can still turn on a dime when someone hurts me, willfully or not. I still judge. I still can find criticism. I have good days, and bad. I still can't always see my image in the mirror and revert back to blame. And you know what? That's okay. I'm not perfect. I'm a work in progress. I've come a long way. It's important to not look how far you still have to go, but realize just how far you have already come.
I'm learning to love better. I am learning to live, like really live! I am learning to love myself so that I don't need anyone to turn on the faucet and fill me. I am learning to let go, gracefully, with love, peace and joy, the way God intended.